Mexican Drug Gang Threatens US Media

Mexican Drug Gang Threatens US Media

General “Black Jack” Pershing must be turning in his grave.

Nearly six years after the Al Qaeda attacks of 9/11, a mass-murdering Mexican drug gang has threatened to kill American journalists who report on the violence between rival cocaine cartels and security forces along Mexico’s border with the United States.

In response, two Texas-based newspapers have pulled their reporters from the city.

How sickening and sad, how truly tragic … for every law-abiding American and Mexican.

Great nations deserve better.

Moderate Islam Is No Islam

Saudi jihadists now make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq

Saudi jihadists now make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq

Saudi double game update. “Saudis’ role in Iraq insurgency outlined,” by Ned Parker for the Los Angeles Times (thanks to Hot Air):

BAGHDAD — Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis….

Askari also alleged that imams at Saudi mosques call for jihad, or holy war, against Iraq’s Shiites and that the government had funded groups causing unrest in Iraq’s largely Shiite south. Sunni extremists regard Shiites as unbelievers.

Protestants react to the pope

Protestants react to the pope

Manya A. Brachear
Published July 13, 2007

When the Vatican issued a papal document Tuesday that rejected other churches as alternative routes to salvation and emphasized Roman Catholicism as the one, true path, many Protestants viewed it as a step backward in ecumenical relations.But some Protestant leaders also took time to assure their flocks that much progress has been made in the last half-century and will continue.

“The anguished response of Christians around the world to the Vatican’s statement … clearly indicates that what may have been meant to clarify has caused pain,” wrote Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “Now is the time for our thoughtful and measured response. The question all Christian people should reflect on today is how best to exercise forbearance and love for one another.”The Seeker asked readers if non-Catholics had a right to criticize the pope for clarifying Catholic doctrine. Most responders unleashed their anger, sometimes at fellow readers. Others tried to open the door to healthy dialogue. Here’s what several had to say:

Charles G: “I am not a Catholic, but I find all the fuss about the pope’s speech hard to understand. Do most fundamentalist Protestant preachers view their more liberal, modernist counterparts as being just as much Christians as they are? I doubt it. Let’s stop pretending that religious differences don’t exist. They do. Acknowledging that fact does not constitute intolerance. Rather, intolerance involves trying to prevent others from worshiping in the way they believe is correct.”

Chrisb: “Criticizing the pope is rather silly, since he’s only saying what his church believes. After all, Protestants also tell Catholics that they’re ‘going to hell,’ so they’re in no position to criticize him. Those Protestants are also merely saying what their church believes.”

Derek: “I am sure that the Catholics out there already know that the Catholic church only believes that Catholics will be saved. I believe the pope wanted to make sure to remind the Protestants of this.”

jmd: “Wow, such anti-Catholic sentiment here! I’m one of the most militant, hedonistic, secular atheists you’ve ever seen, and even I feel deeply hurt by what some of you are saying. I hope you pause long enough from your tirades … to find some small amount of peace in this world.”

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Find the full text of Manya A. Brachear’s Web log at chicagotribune.com/seeker Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune


Pope: Other Christians not true churches

Pope: Other Christians not true churches

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy —Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.

The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. “It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,” said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries.

“It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church,” the group said in a letter charging that the document took ecumenical dialogue back to the era before the Second Vatican Council.

It was the second time in a week that Benedict has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-1965 meetings that modernized the church. On Saturday, Benedict revived the old Latin Mass — a move cheered by Catholic traditionalists but criticized by more liberal ones as a step backward from Vatican II.

Among the council’s key developments were its ecumenical outreach and the development of the New Mass in the vernacular, which essentially replaced the old Latin Mass.

Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers its erroneous interpretation by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Benedict headed before becoming pope, said it was issuing the new document Tuesday because some contemporary theological interpretations of Vatican II’s ecumenical intent had been “erroneous or ambiguous” and had prompted confusion and doubt.

The new document — formulated as five questions and answers — restates key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, “Dominus Iesus,” which riled Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the “means of salvation.”

The commentary repeated church teaching that says the Catholic Church “has the fullness of the means of salvation.”

“Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document released as the pope vacations at a villa in Lorenzago di Cadore, in Italy’s Dolomite mountains.

The other communities “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ’s original apostles — and therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid, it said.

The Rev. Sara MacVane, of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said that although the document contains nothing new, “I don’t know what motivated it at this time.”

“But it’s important always to point out that there’s the official position and there’s the huge amount of friendship and fellowship and worshipping together that goes on at all levels, certainly between Anglicans and Catholics and all the other groups and Catholics,” she said.

The document said that Orthodox churches were indeed “churches” because they have apostolic succession and enjoyed “many elements of sanctification and of truth.” But it said they do not recognize the primacy of the pope — a defect, or a “wound” that harmed them, it said.

“This is obviously not compatible with the doctrine of primacy which, according to the Catholic faith, is an ‘internal constitutive principle’ of the very existence of a particular church,” said a commentary from the congregation that accompanied the text.

Despite the harsh tone, the document stressed that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.

“However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants, but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith,” the commentary said.

The top Protestant cleric in Benedict’s homeland, Germany, complained the Vatican apparently did not consider that “mutual respect for the church status” was required for any ecumenical progress.

In a statement titled “Lost Chance,” Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber argued that “it would also be completely sufficient if it were to be said that the reforming churches are ‘not churches in the sense required here’ or that they are ‘churches of another type’ — but none of these bridges is used” in the Vatican document.

The Vatican statement, signed by the congregation prefect, American Cardinal William Levada, was approved by Benedict on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul — a major ecumenical feast day.

There was no indication why the pope felt it necessary to release it now, particularly since his 2000 document summed up the same principles.

Some analysts suggested it could be a question of internal church politics or that the congregation was sending a message to certain theologians it did not want to single out. Or, it could be an indication of Benedict using his office as pope to again stress key doctrinal issues from his time at the congregation.

In fact, the only theologian cited by name in the document for having spawned erroneous interpretations of ecumenism was Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian clergyman who left the priesthood and was a target of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s crackdown on liberation theology in the 1980s.